Whatever has transformed the Nats, Zimmerman reflects it. For a month, he has watched all the talent in the Nats’ spring training camp, with four players who might start on other teams but can’t get off the bench, plus a bunch of young studs who’ll go to Class AA to play together.
“It looks like we’re set for the next eight to 10 years,” says Zimmerman, chuckling in disbelief at his own out-of-character words. “In the future, our toughest decisions may be who to re-sign. We have so many good players here there’s no room for them all, but you don’t want to lose any of them.
“I’ve been talking to D.C. buddies and they say every other commercial, every other conversation is about our club,” says Zimmerman, noting that rough seasons for the Wizards and Capitals, and salary cap penalties for the Redskins have muted talk about those teams. “If we can be a winner for 10 years, Washington will be a baseball-crazy town. Basically, it’s our time now.
“In two weeks, we have to go up there and do what we know how to do.”
Perhaps Zimmerman was the last holdout for humility. In sports, a room has a tone. Natitude started as an ad gimmick, dumb to some.
But it stuck because it fit players with presence such as Ian Desmond and Gio Gonzalez.
Now, the Nats’ internal sense of self is clear. Last season was just their start.
Have they gotten ahead of themselves? My job is to report, not pretend to see the future. Everything you hear in this camp bespeaks a team that thinks it’s about to start a long belligerent run and doesn’t care who knows. From the day the Nats signed reliever Rafael Soriano for $28 million, when they didn’t absolutely need him, the clear-a-path gauntlet has been thrown down.
The Nats joke openly about the comments by Jimmy Rollins that his Phillies would have won the NL East except for injuries. “J-Dub [Werth] said, ‘Well, we’d have won 120 if we’d been healthy,’ ” Zimmerman said.
Added Werth, walking past: “We were more hurt than the Phillies were last year, but we’re a deeper team. Our bench won it for us last year.”
In the past week, the Nats sent players such as Anthony Rendon (hitting .375) and slugger Matt Skole to the minors.
When the Nats sent their B team to play the Tigers on Sunday, interesting reports filtered back. Detroit’s lineup, fresh from the World Series, had Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez. The Nats outslugged them, 12-10, with two homers by fourth outfielder Tyler Moore, plus a farm-hand onslaught.